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Monday, 19 March 2012
Page: 3363

Mr TEHAN (Wannon) (22:21): I also join in the congratulations due to the member for Swan for a most moving speech that he gave—the speech before last.

I rise tonight to congratulate the Hawkesdale P12 College, and in particular their year 8 students. They have written to me about concerns with the condition of the roads in Wannon. They have decided to take action. They have decided to speak up. They have decided to make their voice heard. I would like to pay tribute to the members of the year 8 class at Hawkesdale for doing this; I want them to know that they have been heard and that their local member will do all he can to try and improve the condition of the roads in the electorate of Wannon.

The particular issue that they wrote to me on is the state of the roads, which have deteriorated as a result of a very large renewable energy project that is occurring in the electorate. At the moment, there is construction underway of the largest wind farm in the Southern Hemisphere. Unfortunately, the roads have not been able to cope with the amount of heavy vehicle traffic on the roads, and they have deteriorated. If there is one lesson we can all learn from this it is that we need proper planning of all projects of this scale, especially in regional and rural areas, and we need to first make sure that our roads are upgraded before these projects take place. This is particularly so if we get wet weather conditions. With the last two winters we have had, the condition of the roads has deteriorated, especially with the heavy vehicle use that has occurred on them.

I also want to let the year 8 students at Hawkesdale college know that I will continue to advocate for more federal government funding for our local roads. The Howard government introduced the very successful Roads to Recovery program. This is a program that continues today, and we need to ensure that it continues to be funded appropriately. Local government across Australia has 650,000 kilometres of local roads, which it has to maintain and repair. In 2006 it was estimated that the cost to local government in doing this is $3.8 billion per annum. So we have to ensure that the Roads to Recovery program continues to be adequately funded. We also have to make sure that the policy the coalition took to the last election—a bridges renewal program for $300 million over four years—can see the light of day at the next election. We must also ensure that, where possible, RDA funding can be given to strategic roads, especially where there are national projects which are impacting on our local roads. We need to ensure that RDA funding can be applied in those cases. I hope this is something the government will take on board.

I have taken the Leader of the Opposition and the shadow Treasurer along some of our local roads so I could point out to them the massive injection of federal funds needed to help maintain and upgrade those roads. I will continue to press upon my coalition colleagues the need for us to ensure we have proper infrastructure funding. I would like to conclude by once again thanking the Hawkesdale students for taking an interest in the condition of our roads, for being proactive and for writing to me about this problem. I assure them that major infrastructure in the electorate of Wannon is front of mind for me. (Time expired)